Milwaukee Bucks (Scott Skiles) 12-17
(Probable) Inactives: Joe Alexander, Roko Ukic and Dan Gadzuric
Orlando Magic (Stan Van Gundy) 22-8
(Probable) Inactives: Adonal Foyle
Time: 6:00 (CST)
TV: FS Wisconsin
Brandon Jennings vs. Jameer Nelson
Nelson will be in his fourth game back since returning from a knee injury, but has had ample time to practice since the Magic haven’t had an actual game since Christmas. Nelson was absent when in the Magic’s 100-98 win over Milwaukee on November 28th. With Nelson back, the Magic are without question a much better team. Neither Anthony Johnson or Jason Williams provide the consistency or shooting touch from outside that Nelson can contribute. Having that extra shooter and talent on the court can do wonders to help a team maintain some sort of consistency on offense. The Magic haven’t quite figured out how all the pieces fit just yet, they were waxed by the Celtics Christmas day, but Nelson makes them very dangerous when he’s healthy. Jennings is coming off his best performance in weeks, the majority of which came with Michael Redd on the bench. I’m just saying.
Michael Redd vs. Vince Carter
Sigh. If Redd’s starting this game next to Carlos Delfino I might walk out into traffic during the game. This line-up hasn’t worked and won’t suddenly start to work. Redd and Jennings have shown very few signs of cohesiveness in their limited time on the court together. Carter has entrenched himself as Orlando’s number one option in crunch time, hitting free throws with more success than ever before, despite shooting lower percentages than he traditionally does on three’s and field goals in general. In short, Carter is finding a way to contribute to a 22-8 team despite not playing up to par for himself. Doesn’t that sound nice?
Carlos Delfino vs. Mickael Pietrus
Carlos Delfino, more like CarLOSS Delfino. Am I right? Bad puns aside, something needs to be done here. Whether or not Redd should be starting is probably at least up for some sort of theological debate, but in the what have you done for me lately world of the NBA, there is no logical explanation behind Delfino starting against the Magic if he is. You know what’s kind of funny? Pietrus is known for his athleticism, dunking and defensive abilities. And even he is a slightly better career three-point shooter than Carlos Delfino (.357 to .354). How did this guy fool everyone for a month or so into thinking he could shoot?
Ersan Ilyasova vs. Rashard Lewis
It was nice to see Ersan throw together a game resembling the Ilyasova performances we saw earlier this year. Speaking of stellar early season Ilyasova work: 20 points and 16 rebounds were had against the Magic on 11/28. I’d take that again in a heartbeat. The Magic largely rely on Howard to grab boards, so if Bogut is able to work on him, there could be rebounds available. Where rebounds are available Ilyasova lurks. Lewis has never been a great reounder, but he’s a very smooth scorer and hit a clutch shot in the final minute against Milwaukee last game. It’s never an easy night for Ersan and Wednesday will prove no different.
Andrew Bogut vs. Dwight Howard
How Bogut will react to the second half benching of Monday night’s game will be interesting to see. Lots of talk about effort and intensity, but it’s impossible to project when Bogut will have a good game or a bad one before tip. His game does not lend itself to consistency as it’s currently constructed and Dwight Howard isn’t exactly the kind of player other centers can get themselves back on track against. Bogut was not active when these teams last met, which is surprising considering the Bucks almost won. Kurt Thomas spent the majority of the game attempting to keep Howard off the glass and away from the rim, but was largely unsuccessful (25 points and 20 rebounds) despite hard work. Bogut has the size to at least compete on a higher level than Thomas is he really brings it.
Kurt Thomas, Luke Ridnour, Hakim Warrick, Jodie Meeks and Charlie Bell
Ryan Anderson, Jason Williams, JJ Redick, Brandon Bass, Marcin Gortat and Matt Barnes
Answer: So deep. Question: What are the Magic? All six of the Magic’s main bench components could start for the Bucks. Gortat and Bass occasionally lose out on minutes due to a sheer numbers game, but don’t think for a second that they can’t play. Hakim Warrick had some success against the Magic last game and was okay against the Bobcats, he’ll have to be in top-notch form again for the Bucks to muster much against the Magic’s supersubs.
Prediction: Magic 102 – Bucks 90
The last time these teams met the Bucks were coming off what had been their least inspiring loss of the season and third in a row at that point in Oklahoma City. Now? The Bucks come to Orlando after an embarrassing loss in which the Bucks trailed by 22 points at half to a below average Charlotte team. Somehow, the Bucks managed to re-group after the loss to the Thunder and lead for most of the game (at home) against Orlando last time.
I wouldn’t count on the same effort Wednesday night. Especially against a team that has had the luxury of four days off coming into this game.
The Magic are too good at home, the Bucks are too bad on the road and the talent gap is simply too great for the Bucks to lead for much (if any) of the game Wednesday night. But that doesn’t ensure that all hope will be lost after this game. If the Bucks are simply able to make a game of it and show more commitment on the defensive end and passion in general, they could have something to build on.
Yes, the bar is low right now.